Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
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HE antiquities discovered lately in the Island of Cyprus, consisting of several different periods of its civilisation, have certainly cast a new and important light on the history of art, for they form a connecting link between the Greek and Phœnician, or Aryan and Semitic civilisation. That Cyprus received colonists from the three continents of the old world is undoubted. Evidence of the Phœnician and Greek colonists is proved by the remains of these nationalities found on the coast and elsewhere, while the conquest of the island by Egypt and Assyria has been recorded in the annals of those countries, and their arts have left the stamp of their impression on the sculpture of Cyprus. At the time of the eighteenth Egyptian dynasty, fifteen or sixteen centuries before Christ, Cyprus was known to the Egyptians, and had evidently been colonised and inhabited. The Greeks anterior to the time of Homer had peopled portions of the island, and the coast was held by their settlements, the establishment of which has been attributed to the period of the Nostoi, or return of the. Greeks from the Trojan War, and cannot be referred to a later date than nine centuries before Christ. These settlers had evidently brought with them the Cypriote alphabet, invented before that known as the Greek, examples of which cannot be identified earlier than six centuries before the Christian era. Contemporaneously, or later, the Phœnicians had migrated to Cyprus, and mingled with the Hellenic population. In the seventh century before Christ, Assyrian annals show that Cyprus was held by numerous princes, for as early as B.c. 715, seven kings of Cyprus had sent tribute to Sargon at Babylon, and at a later period, ten kings of Cyprus, among whom appeal's a king of Salamis, propitiated Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal with their tribute. To the Egyptians, Cyprus was "the Isle in the middle of the Great Sea", perhaps the Khaft of the earlier period, and the Masenia of the later age. The arts of Egypt and Assyria had a striking influence upon Phœnician art, and also considerably modified the sculpture of Cyprus. The only question for archaeologists to decide is the period of that influence, if it is to be attributed to the older age of the ninth and tenth centuries B.c., or to the later one of the conquest of the island by the Egyptians just prior to the Persian Conquest, about the fifth century B.c. This is principally to be determined by the arrangement of the head and hair, or the curls and beard, of the statues, which differ at different periods, resembling the Egyptian of the sixth century, or the Persian of the fifth, although there are undoubted evidences of earlier imitations in the bronze bowls and other objects. It is in this respect that the antiquities discovered in Cyprus possess such great interest for the study of archaeology.

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